Teen Reviews and Critics (TRaC)
The Teen Reviewers and Critics Program (TRaC) is a free 10-week afterschool program for high school students from all over New York and New Jersey to explore the arts in NYC while expanding critical thinking and writing skills. Participating teens are placed in one of six groups—film, dance, theater, visual art, music, or multi-arts—to dig deep into a specific artistic genre by attending cutting-edge performances, meeting artists, visiting museums, learning to navigate the city, and much more.
How To Apply
Please review the Application Preview, then use the link below to Log In to our Application Portal and apply online, or contact Keonna Hendrick, Program Manager, at .
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Join TRaC?
It’s a great way to meet people from different backgrounds, all across the metro area, sharpen your critical eye, travel around the five boroughs, improve your verbal and written communication skills, and learn about arts and culture in NYC!
What do you do in TRaC?
Over ten weeks, participants travel together to see hand-picked shows and exhibitions at different venues, in different boroughs and neighborhoods. You’ll meet professional artists, playwrights, musicians, writers and critics, and hear how they live, think and work. You’ll write about what you see/hear/experience. In weekly workshops, you’ll learn the language of each art discipline, debate your tastes with peers, chat with visiting artists, and write and workshop 200 – 400 word reviews or creative responses. Your best work will be published in High 5’s online publication, The Journal of Art and Reviews (The JAR), and may be featured in our weekly email newsletter, which goes out to thousands of New Yorkers. In addition, TRaC teens also get to attend shows on the High 5 calendar while during the semester they participate in the program.
How often — and where — do the Teen Reviewers meet?
Every TRaC group meets for 8 weekly workshops and 5 art events (shows and exhibitions). All workshops are held from 4:30-6:30, in mid-town Manhattan. Typically, the 5 events for Theater, Dance, Music and Multi-arts TRaC are in the evening immediately following workshops or on weekends. These events may last up to 2hours and 30 minutes and sometimes do not end until 10 p.m. Visual Arts and Film TRaC will have extended workshop hours on event days, or will meet on a Saturday. One or two art events may be in Brooklyn or Queens; however, to make it possible for everyone to attend, shows are primarily in Manhattan. In addition to the workshops and shows, there is a TRaC Kick-Off event for all participants and a culminating TRaC Finale that friends and family are welcome to attend.
Which TRaC is right for me?
Well, that depends on you! Many times painters will take Visual Arts TRaC and musicians will take Music TRaC, as you’d expect. However, some of the most rewarding experiences (as we’ve heard from TRaC grads) have occurred when people venture into uncharted territory. We encourage people to experiment. Try the class you know the least about. No matter what you choose, you are guaranteed to go somewhere and see something you’ve never seen before.
You can learn more about each TRaC at our open house events. We host three open house events each year—in the early fall, winter and late spring—where teens and their families can meet the TRaC instructors, former TRaC participants and ArtsConnection staff.
What if I don’t know much about the TRaC art discipline I want to apply for?
No problem. No experience necessary. There is always a diverse level of experience in every TRaC workshop. People who’ve never attended a downtown dance performance sitting next to a peer with an extensive modern, tap and salsa background. We believe when people with all kinds of experience see work together, everyone learns from each other. So don’t worry if you’ve never been to an art gallery or never been to a downtown dance performance space to see performance art. After TRaC, you will have!
How many people are accepted into TRaC?
We accept about 70 teens total. We keep the group size small (12 people max per group) so everyone can be involved, have their voice heard, and receive individual attention from the instructors.
Where do TRaC participants come from?
Every year we have new TRaC participants from all five NYC boroughs, from New Jersey, from Long Island, from Westchester County. Over the summer, they’ve come from as far as North Carolina, Florida and even France. There’s always a mix of people from public schools, private schools, vocational schools, alternative schools and few who are home schooled.
Does TRaC help build my resume for college?
Definitely! First of all, TRaC is a selective program that only admits about 200 students over the year. You will receive a certificate, which can be submitted with your college applications, along with all of your published work. Colleges are always looking for students who take initiative and have expanded interests beyond the usual extracurricular clubs and sports. We know for a fact that many students have cited their TRaC experience in their college essays and applications for other arts programs and internships, which illustrates the strong impact TRaC has had on those who do it.
Does TRaC cost anything?
Nope. TRaC is COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE! You’ll need some pocket cash to pay for your transportation, snacks and an occasional dinner on the go, but that’s it.
I have a lot of school work and a tight schedule. Do I have time for TRaC?
TRaC is definitely a time commitment and you need to figure out if you can make it work for you. It is important that you are able to attend all the workshops and events. We get it. Things happen, however, it’s important to the success of the group that all participants are present and prepared.
Here’s what you can expect: Weekly workshop meetings last two hours. The five art events are approximately two and a half hour commitments, depending on the performance or exhibition. We typically schedule the outings to fall on the same day as class or on a weekend so they don’t conflict with other things in your weekly schedule. In addition, you will be asked to do some TRaC work outside of workshop. Some weeks you may write approximately 200 – 500 words about each of the performances. (To give you an idea, this paragraph is just about 200 words, so it’s really not that much!) Other weeks you may be revising your work, or helping out someone else with their creative response. There isn’t writing due every week, and truth be told, we’ve never had anyone tell us that there was more writing than they could keep up with. We’ve had students juggling SAT prep, college applications, varsity sports, school newspaper duties, music lessons and after-school jobs fit TRaC into their schedule just fine.
What happens to the reviews and creative responses we develop in TRaC?
Selected TRaC and Freelancer reviews are featured in the Journal of Art and Reviews and our weekly newsletter to offer other High 5 users insights and suggestions about some of our offerings.
Okay, I’m ready. How do I apply for TRaC?
In order to be eligible for TRaC you must be a high school student, have your parent or guardian’s permission to participate, and commit to attending the workshops and completing the reviews and creative responses. To apply, complete the online application. Read it over carefully and order your TRaC preferences. We’ll try to get you your first or second choice. The application includes a few short essay questions and asks you to provide contact info for a recommending teacher. All potential candidates will also come in for a short group interview with the TRaC Director and other applicants. While we try to accept as many teens in TRaC as we can, this is a competitive program and sometimes we can’t place everyone. If for some reason we are unable to accommodate you in a TRaC class this season, you’ll be offered first dibs on a TRaC class in the upcoming season if you apply again. We try to accommodate everyone who wants to be here.
For more information contact:
***Thank you to the generous supporters that make TRaC possible: NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Altman Foundation, American Eagle Outfitters Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive, Kinder Morgan Foundation, Sony Corporation of America and the in-kind support of The Dedalus Foundation